We know, we know.. There have only been three rounds of Super League XX thus far, but that doesn’t stop us! This week’s Thursday 13 has been asking you on social media for the players that have stood out the most so far this season, and from that, we’ve devised this very early team of the season!
Fullback: Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos)
Fullback was a tough slot to pick; especially with the likes of Niall Evalds, Jonny Lomax and Jamie Shaul in contention. But we’ve gone for Zak Hardaker; who is Super League’s top metre maker after three rounds with 491 – and he also has two tries from three appearances to his name, too. A couple of shaky moments in defence, but ultimately it has been a great start to 2015 from Hardaker.
Wing: Tom Briscoe (Leeds Rhinos)
Joining Hardaker in the back division is his Leeds teammate Tom Briscoe, who seems to be hitting top form in 2015. Briscoe has a try in each of Leeds’ opening three victories to his name so far this season, as well as posting more tackle busts than anyone else in Super League so far (20). Those three scores have also been supplemented with three try assists, too.
Centre: Chris Riley (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats)
Although he’s played most of his game on the wing so far this season, we, as well as you, our readers, felt that it was impossible to leave Chris Riley out of this team so early in the season. Nobody has more tries than Riley in Super League this season, with his four in three games an impressive haul. A hat-trick against Hull KR was the highlight of that, and Riley has proved to be a shrewd buy for Wakefield.
Centre: Mark Percival (St Helens)
Both St Helens centres had a claim to be in this side in truth; as Jordan Turner has been equally as impressive as young Mark Percival so far this season. Three tries tells only half the story of Percival’s season; he has as many try assists too, and is quickly becoming an important of Keiron Cunningham’s side after a great start to Super League XX.
Wing: Kevin Penny (Warrington Wolves)
Kevin Penny is without doubt the individual story of 2015 so far. Not many considered him to be such an important part of the Warrington side in 2015, but he has impressed with some phenomenal performances. As well as going great on the wing, he’s also stepped in at fullback magnificently, and he looks to be very much a man reborn after a difficult couple of years in the game.
Stand-off: Terry Campese (Hull Kingston Rovers)
It’s never easy to slot into Super League after a move from the NRL, especially after a difficult final 12 months in Australia. But Terry Campese has made the transition with ease, and is guiding Hull KR around the field more and more as the weeks go on. His performance against Wigan last weekend was simply sensational, and he looks to be a great recruit.
Scrum-half: Scott Dureau (Catalans Dragons)
Dureau has only played two out of Catalans’ opening three games so far in Super League XX, but it’s perhaps no coincidence that they have been the two games the Dragons have won. His influence on the French outfit seems to be as big as it was a couple of years ago, and Dureau looks every inch the classy halfback he was before that awful spate of bad health that ruled him out of the game.
Prop: Alex Walmsley (St Helens)
Plenty of contenders in the front row, with the likes of Atelea Vea and even Jamie Peacock mentioned on social media. But Walmsley has been the leader of Saints’ charge so far in 2015, with some commanding performances to lay a great platform for those around him. He’s made more metres than anyone else in the Saints team, and has enjoyed a strong start to Super League XX.
Hooker: James Roby (St Helens)
The hooking role had some strong candidates, but it’s impossible to overlook the influence of James Roby. He’s St Helens’ 80-minute man, and his influence and guile is as magnificent as it was during 2014. The England international has it all, and with more tackles than anyone else in Super League, we just couldn’t leave him out of this side comprising the best best players of 2015 so far.
Prop: Adam Cuthbertson (Leeds Rhinos)
Much like Terry Campese, Leeds’ Adam Cuthbertson has settled into Super League life like a dream. The rampaging forward was Leeds’ only recruit heading into 2015, and he has proved to be a sound buy. With the Rhinos losing punch in guys like Ryan Bailey and Ian Kirke in the off-season, Cuthbertson’s arrival has given Leeds dominance, power and yet more influence.
Second-row: Stevie Ward (Leeds Rhinos)
There have been several young back-rowers that have caught the eye thus far in 2015, but Leeds’ Stevie Ward is arguably the one who stands out the most. The youngster has been tipped for the top for some time, and he seems to be on the road to fulfilling that potential in Super League XX. He’s Leeds’ top tackler, and with his instinctive line breaking and immense work-rate, he’s key for Leeds so far in 2015.
Second-row: Jordan Thompson (Hull FC)
There were options in our second back-row slot, with young St Helens star Joe Greenwood one who has caught the eye, for example. But Hull’s Jordan Thompson has enjoyed a brilliant start to 2015, even if it hasn’t been so strong for the Black and Whites as a team. Tries, assists and huge workloads are all part of a rapidly developing game, with Thompson clearly on top of his game.
Loose forward: John Bateman (Wigan Warriors)
He’s filled in at centre, second-row and even at loose forward – which is where we’ve opted to place John Bateman in this team. In the absence of Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin, Bateman has thrived in the middle of the park, going through an immense amount of work to help the Warriors cope without their influential skipper.